Friday, February 20, 2009

Choosing Not to Choose China

I read yesterday’s Washington Post article on brides and china and smirked as I recalled my own wedding and the amazement from so many (especially my mother’s southern friends) when I declined to choose a china, crystal, or silver pattern. I chose a Dansk pattern that I could love every day and on all occasions.

The article remarks about a shift in brides’ registering for wedding gifts and choosing traditional patterns. Until about 10 years ago, 85 to 90 percent of couples registered for formal china; whereas today only 45 to 50 percent of couples are choosing fine china.

We both were immediately drawn to Generation Blue Mist and the companion Classique stainless patterns from Dansk. We both loved to eat and to entertain, but we just didn’t need the formality of china, crystal, and silver.

To this day the only pattern we have is our original blue and white dishes. I love them every bit as much as the day we picked this stoneware pattern. Unfortunately they are no longer made, so when we need replacement pieces we must go online and hope to find what we need.

My mother’s Noritake china, with its paper thin little cups, sits boxed in the basement. I suppose I was hoping my daughter might one day want it, but probably not. It’s just now my style or hers.

Don’t get me wrong. I love eating at my friends’ houses, where their tables are set with the finest china, Waterford crystal, and shining silver. I feel elegant. But as they wash every piece by hand and carefully store it away for the next fancy occasion, I remind myself that mine can go in the dishwasher.

I find it so interesting that my early rebellion has become a trend!


Blogger lacochran said...

When we got married, my husband had "everyday" china from his previous marriage (which we use as our everyday dishes), I had Wedgewood china from my previous marriage, we inherited two sets of fine china including one produced in Occupied Japan, and we received a setting for four of yet another pattern of "everyday" china as part of our honeymoon trip package. We sent the last set to our daughter when she got married because she liked it and it was just sitting in a box.

Crazy, really, how much stuff we accumulate when someone could be enjoying it. We give stuff away regularly but probably should do more.

1:25 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Lacochran -- You just reminded me that we could probably outfit an apartment with all the stuff we have in boxes in our basement. Someone should be using it!

3:37 PM  
Blogger Avid Reader said...

China sets have never crossed my mind--in all these years...
we have pottery made by friends and family members--plates, bowls, etc... and odd pieces from trips to Ireland , Japan, France and Italy. We have flea market finds & and neither of us ever thought about buying anything fancy. We're just not formal people at all.

I have a friend who collects Beleek, so I used to always stop at the factory and get her something unusual , since I drove past it to and from the airport. She never uses the Beleek, it's just to look at.

4:06 PM  
Blogger Avid Reader said...

Actually, since the town is called Belleek, the china probably is too!

4:09 PM  
Blogger lakeviewer said...

Yes, we feel transported to another time and richer tastes. Do keep your dishes, maybe not for your children, but grandchildren. We all appreciate something we discover in grandma's attic.

4:34 PM  
Blogger Cyndy said...

We did the same thing when we got married. Our pattern is Silk Flowers by Mikasa and it's totally dishwasher safe.

Do you know about You can get items from tons of different patterns there. We found replacements therer for most of the dishes we lost in the fire. Some of the stuff is not quite perfect, but it's better than nothing, and the prices are pretty good.

5:18 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Avid -- We share similar philosophies! I often enjoy the hand-thrown pottery the most.

Lakeviewer -- Here I am trying to pare down and get rid of things and you're telling me to keep them for the grandchildren that are not even remotely on the horizon!

Cyndy -- Yes, we used that site or a similar one with great success. There are pieces no longer available, but most of the essentials are still for sale. They must go around buying up patterns as they go out of production!

6:15 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

People are so mobile now, and so does a 90-piece china set fit into that kind of lifestyle?

We got my grandmother's china when she died -- a huge set of Wedgewood that, to my way of thinking, is ugly. It's slathered with gold plate and very ornate. Definitely not something I want on my table. So I'm not sure where it's headed, but it's not coming to me -- and I don't think my grandmother, who I loved a lot, would mind that.

6:18 PM  
Blogger tut-tut said...

plates are there everyday; we might as well have something we like to eat from. Whatever that may be.

6:22 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Steve -- I agree that you just don't seem to be a Wedgwood kind of guy. Especially not an ornate pattern like you described.

Tut-tut -- I think it is important to like the way your food looks on your plate.

7:13 PM  
Blogger Merle Sneed said...

Mrs. Sneed and I eloped, so there was no choosing to do.

10:05 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Merle -- Seriously? You were even more rebellious than I was way back then.

10:11 PM  
Blogger GEWELS said...

I didn't choose china when I got married either. But I have since gotten a beautiful set of Wedgewood and Waterford.
It drives my Mother crazy that I use them out on the deck for barbeques. I just tell her that I'll use it (at the risk of breaking it) rather than look at it collecting dust.

9:26 AM  
Blogger Kellyann Brown said...

I still love the china pattern that I picked out for my other wedding, luckily Dr. R. likes it too. We have a huge set that I am constantly adding to thanks to Ebay. It's called Liberty (by Lenox). It was one of the first fine china patterns to be dishwasher safe. We use the teacups everyday, but the plates have gold rims, so I can't use them in the microwave, hence the glass plates we do use. I showed Dr. R. a silver pattern that I liked and he liked it too, so we have collected sterling in a heavy rose pattern. It's a little funny to set your table with china and silver, but your glasses are from IKEA, so we have just recently gotten water glasses from Waterford. I know that you don't own stuff, it owns you, but I do enjoy our "fancy" plates and silverware, pulling them out and using them at random times often gives us a little "lift".

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My entire adult life my dishware has been a cobbled-together affair, and it's only been in the last couple of years that I've let go of feeling less-than-adult about it, and now embrace the fun of mismatched, colorful, interesting plates, mugs, bowls, etc. I get to eat from totally different colors, patterns, and shapes several times a day, and doubt I'll ever want a pattern...Go figure!

And -- I say let go of whatever you're ready to let go of!



10:58 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

My parents went with everyday china, two sets. My mom still has one of them; I have the other. I use it pretty much every day.

2:53 PM  
Blogger Squirrel said...

We married at City Hall, so no shopping for trad doo dads

1:24 PM  
Blogger Terry said...

We are kindred spirits! When we married in 1970 I, too, chose not to pick out china or silver and we chose, instead, Dansk Generation Mist Brown and Lauffer Stainless, very similar to your stainless. They are still my "good" dishes and I still love their classic design.

3:41 AM  
Blogger Terry said...

See my blog entry today.
I couldn't resist.

6:28 PM  

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